Advice for a virgin recorder

Hello Audacity community, all yee’ rockers of the free world…

I have a question that I’d like to preface with my current system specs:

OS: Windows 7, 64 bit
RAM: 8,192 mb
Processor: core 2 duo @ 3.16 ghz
No sound card.

Background: Dream came true about 2 years ago and I finally met the folks that I can now call my band. We are playing really tight these days and I would like to record some of our stuff much better than I currently do.
My current method:
I take a physical audio recorder and sit the bastid in front of me. (laugh it up)
As I spend more time at our producers I realize I’d really like to record our jam sessions, which take place in my basement, on a fairly decent level.

With that said I plead to you gurus, for some guidance in doing so.
I sadly am ill-prepared to even type this question, as I don’t even know where to begin.

Our musical setup:
3 amps, drum set. Bass; Lead guitar; Rhythm and vocals. (the singer carries the band but that’s not important right now) (I’m the singer :mrgreen: )
Number of expected inputs: 4 + drums (honestly no idea how to record the drums)

I would like what is coming out of the amps to go into my computer…better even is the room is recorded.

What I think I need:
Sound card, mixer, cables

My budget:
I’d like to keep the grand total around $600. If this just 'aint going to happen then just go with what’s on your mind and I’ll at least be really f$#@!^@# thankful you humored this post.

My question:
What do I need, fellas? This doesn’t have to be some flawless recording setup, as I do the majority of this at the producer’s studio. I don’t want this to be akin to Macaulay Culkin aiming a talkboy at us either.
For those of you who take the time to answer this, please include any music you’d like me to check out and plug if that’d tickle your fancy. Otherwise know you’re doing a stranger a big 'effin favor.


After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.

There are lots of possible answers to this question, so here’s one to kick off:

  1. Carpet. Lots of it. Carpet the floor and walls - the more the better. Beg it, borrow it, get it from a house clearance. Basements typically have terrible acoustics and you’ll probably need to get a lot of sound absorbent material around the place. Don’t worry about the colour, I’ve not included light bulbs in the list.

  2. Active near field monitors. If you can’t hear your recording clearly your mix will be rubbish. (around $300)

  3. Zoom H2N. This portable recorder is not the cheapest (or the most expensive) but if you can get one at a decent price they are good value. The built-in microphones are pretty reasonable and the portability and ease of use can be handy. A very versatile piece of kit for the price of one budget recording mic. (about $200)

  4. Headphones. Unless you have a big budget for the monitors you’ll find that a pair of decent quality comfortable headphones are invaluable for listening to the detail. Headphones are a poor (but much cheaper) substitute for studio monitors, but they make a valuable addition. Also very handy for “checking that take” without needing to plug anything in. (example Superlux HD-661 for around $40)

  5. An inexpensive USB sound card for driving the monitors. Even a cheap Behringer UCA 202 will do this job well, but don’t be tempted to go cheaper than that. (around $30)

To amplify on Steve’s points.

He’s not talking about multi-miking. He’s talking about one stereo microphone in the “sweet spot” in the room. You’ll never build a multi-mike system for $600.

In that case you’ll need to feed the vocals through a PA, just as if you were live on stage.

Go to the iTunes store and search for Fred Eaglesmith. Listen some tracks off the album “6 Volts”. All the songs were recorded with 1 mono microphone in a room.

– Bill